Challenges of Cloud Storage and Backup
More and more businesses and government agencies are considering the cloud as a possible solution to their data storage and backup needs. In general, when businesses talk about “the cloud,” they are referring to a type of computing that involves sharing computing resources, usually via the Internet. For a more in-depth definition of the cloud and a discussion of cloud security issues, you can read our blog post, “When Security in the Cloud Gets in the Way of Work.”
Cloud storage refers to the use of the cloud as a replacement for more traditional kinds of data storage, such as a Network Attached Storage centralized storage device (a server dedicated solely to file sharing). Similarly, cloud backup refers to the use of the cloud as a way to protect data.
Cloud storage and backup offer several advantages.
- Lower costs. Using the cloud means you can avoid paying for the infrastructure you would otherwise need. Administration costs are also drastically reduced.
- Offsite, redundant data storage. Cloud storage is inherently offsite, providing appropriate storage in case of natural disasters. You can also find larger cloud service providers who offer redundant storage of data in multiple servers. This means that if one server goes down, you can still access data from the other servers without adversely impacting your business.
- Reliable and secure backup. Most cloud backup offers data deduplication (a specialized data compression technique for eliminating duplicate copies of data) and compression (a process of reducing file sizes by encoding data information more efficiently), making it both efficient and more secure.
- Scalability. Cloud based data backup allows your business to easily increase storage as its data grows over time, while only charging for the storage you use. You avoid the upfront costs you would otherwise face to add to your data storage infrastructure.
- Easy access to data. Cloud data storage allows teams in widely separate locations to easily share data and files.
- Simple data backup and recovery. For some cases, the cloud makes it easy to automate data backup and to recover data.
Of course, there are also some disadvantages to consider.
- A full initial data backup can be prohibitively time consuming. Further backups are much faster as they should only include new or modified data. If your company’s backups frequently involve large files, it can be more effective to backup your data first to an on-site server and then to the cloud.
- Bandwidth availability may be limited. If so, your backup strategy will need to take into account how much data can actually be backed up daily.
- Dependency on your cloud service provider. If your provider has unexpected issues, you will have no control over fixing those issues, instead having to rely on them.
- Entrusting data to a third party. Naturally, using the cloud means you are entrusting your data to your cloud service provider. This may be more of an issue for some industries than others. You can make certain that your cloud service provider uses modern encryption tools, or encrypt it yourself before you back up to the cloud.
Whether or not cloud storage and backup will be a good solution for your business is going to depend on your specific needs. It is well worth the time to consider if lower costs and scalability, along with other advantages, might make a cloud solution work for you.